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Roxobel , Bertie County, North Carolina 

in Recognition of its 


John E. Tyler 


In commemoration of its two hundredth anniversary 
(1750-1950) I was requested by Sandy Run Baptist Church to 
prepare a history of this ancient institution. If I have 
dwelt at length on its origin and early development, it is 
because these early formative years were years of 
uncertainty and struggle. These were years when the church 
was exposed to many influences and ideas. These were years 
which saw the shaping of the character of the Sandy Run 
Church. Like any well constructed house, built on a firm 
foundation, the Sandy Run Church has endured. 

In preparing this history I wish to express my 
appreciation for their assistance to Miss Mattie Livermon, 
Mrs. Paul Jilcott, Miss Eva Watson, Mr. Malcolm Brown, 
Rev. George E. Reynolds, members of the staff of the Wake 
Forest Library, Miss Mary Thornton, in charge of the North 
Carolina Room at the University of North Carolina, and 
others who have helped me in obtaining information. 

Roxobel, N. C. 
July, 1950 

John E. Tyler 


by John E. Tyler 

The origin of the Sandy Run Church, the oldest Baptist 
church in Bertie County, is intricately connected with the early 
growth of the Baptist faith in North Carolina. It is assumed that 
there were some Baptists among the early settlers in the 
province, who drifted down from Virginia during the second half 
of the seventeenth century, seeking the rich and more bountiful 
lands along the Meherrin, Chowan and other streams which flow 
into the Albemarle Sound. It is known that the Quakers were well 
represented and that the Church of England was established by 
1701. The first contemporary record of the presence of Baptist in 
the colony, however, does not appear until 1714. 

Under the guidance of Paul Palmer, the first Baptist church 
in North Carolina was established in 1727 in Chowan County. This 
church, however, was short lived and was soon scattered. Its 
first and only local pastor is believed to have been a young 
preacher named Joseph Parker, who afterwards moved to Meherrin in 
present Hertford County and who in,., all probability took a number 
of its members with him to begin the church there. In the 
meantime a church had been established at Shiloh in present day 
Camden County making it the earliest permanent Baptist church in 
North Carolina. 

Page - 1 

As the little North Carolina colony began to expand in a 
westward and southward direction from its nucleus about the 
Albemarle region, we find the Baptist church spreading with the 
increasing population. In 1722 Bertie Precinct had been formed, 
as a part of Chowan County, embracing the lands west of the 
Chowan River, extending northward to the Virginia line, with the 
Roanoke River forming part of its southern boundary up to Welch's 
Creek. Therefore, when Joseph Parker moved to Meherrin about 1729 
or 1730 he located in what was at that time a part of Bertie 
Precinct, which, also, at that time was changed to Bertie County. 
All the while a great number of people were continually moving 
down into North Carolina from the counties across the line in 
southern Virginia. 

The church which Parker established at Meherrin was the 
first Baptist church to be founded west of the Chowan River. The 
@hUf§h s£ Meherrin aervad an area which today includes Bertie, 
Northampton and Hertford Counties and parts of Gates County. In 
view of the increasing population, in this area, other churches 
sprang up in the more thickly populated sections. Therefore, the 
difficulties of travel were curtailed by the reduction of the 
distance that the members had to go to reach a meeting house. 
Such would seem to be the cause for the establishment of what was 
to become Sandy Run Church, for about 1740 "Joseph Parker and his 
people at Meherrin dismissed by letter enough of their members to 
form what was long known as the Bertie Church, but later as Sandy 
Run".(l) This new church was located some twenty-five miles 
south of the church at Meherrin and several miles from Sandy Run, 

Page - 2 

which flowed into the Roanoke River. This church which first 
became known as the Bertie Church was, according to George W. 
Paschal, the Baptist historian, the fourth Baptist church 
established in North Carolina. With the quick demise of the first 
church started in Chowan County, it became the third oldest 
Baptist church to endure. 

Several dates have been given for the founding of what we 
now know as Sandy Run Church. Included are 1740, 1750, 1754-55- 
56, 1773. The date, 1750, is most generally given in the minutes 
of the different associations to which the church has belonged 
and is the date accepted by it. No doubt, this is because 1750 
was the year in which the church presumably received its 
constitution and became an independent or separate unit. The fact 
that it was established as an independent body in 1750, however, 
proves that it existed as a branch of some other church before 
that date. The dates concerning the founding of the Bertie (later 
Sandy Run) Church may be summarized as follows: 

1740-Founded as a branch of the Meherrin Church. During the 
following decade it became associated with the Kehukee Church as 
a branch of that church. 

1750-Constituted and established as an independent body. 

1754-55-56-Approximate dates re-established under new 

1773-Reorganized by Rev. Lemuel Burkitt. 

The site of its first meeting house was located about three 
miles from Norfleets Ferry on the Roanoke River and about two 

Page - 3 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2014 

miles from Sandy Run(2) not far from the present town of Roxobel, 
and in the vicinity of what was known as Bishops Mill Pond. When 
the first church building was erected is not known. However, it 
had been built by October, 1761, for at that time John Skinner of 
Bertie County, who lived in that area, gave to "the Baptist 
Society" a deed of gift to one acre, "it being the place on which 
the people aforesaid have built a meeting house for her public 
worship of God." This property adjoined his own and that of 
Benjamin Harrell. In a later deed of 1765 the boundary of the 
edge of the church property is referred to as "the meeting house 
line" . 

Northampton County was carved out of Bertie in 1741 and 
Hertford County in 1759. With the establishment of those two 
counties, Bertie lost much of its territory. Though, now, located 
only a few miles from the boundaries of both these new counties, 
the site of the church, begun in 1740 by some of the congregation 
for the Meherrin Church, still remained in Bertie County. As the 
only Baptist church in the reduced boundaries of Bertie, it was 
known as the Bertie Church. It continued to be known as the 
Bertie Church until the early nineteenth century. For a number 
of years after it was constituted an independent church in 1750, 
it and the Meherrin Church were the only Baptist churches between 
the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers. 

Little is known of these first struggling years of the 
Bertie Church because there are no records or minutes to tell its 
story. When it was established many of its members were scattered 

Page - 4 

over the county in different neighborhoods. It is possible that 
Elder Joseph Parker of Meherrin was responsible for its earliest 
guidance. During the early 1740' s there was formed across the 
Roanoke River from the Bertie Church another Baptist church. This 
one, founded by William Soujourner, was located at Kehukee in 
present day Martin County. It and the Bertie Church were to play 
important roles in the development of the Baptist faith for the 
remainder of the colonial days and during the early years of 
North Carolina's statehood. Unlike the Bertie Church, which was 
evidently formed locally from a larger church territory, the 
first members of the Kehukee Church, migrated directly from Isle 
of Wight County in Virginia, because of a "visiting pestilential 
disease which carried off many of the inhabitants." This Baptist 
congregation was seeking a more healthy region. The Kehukee 
Church, from its beginning was a strong organization and under 
the leadership of its first pastor it developed several prominent 

The Bertie Church on the other hand, apparently had no 
regular pastor and its organization was rather loose. The 
proximity of the Kehukee Church to it, however, naturally had its 
effect and sometime during the period from 1740 to 1750 it 
appears that the Bertie Church came to look for guidance from the 
Kehukee Church across the river, ra*ther than from its mother 
church at Meherrin. No doubt the Kehukee Church began to supply 
its preachers. One historian says that the Bertie Church became 
established as an arm of the Kehukee Church, becoming an 
independent body in 1750.(3) 

Page - 5 

Members of the early Baptist churches in North Carolina were 
of the General Baptist inclination. They were, no doubt, 
influenced to some degree by Elders Paul Palmer, Joseph Parker, 
William Soujourner and others who as their pastors and leaders 
were General Baptist. One contributing factor which should not be 
overlooked, however, is that many of these first Baptist in North 
Carolina had moved, or were descended from families who had moved 
into the colony from counties across the border in southern 
Virginia, where a number of General Baptist had previously 
settled. Isle of Wight County, Virginia, particularly, seems to 
have been the source of many of the first General Baptist in 
eastern Carolina. As early as 1700 a number of General Baptist 
from England had settled in Isle of Wight County. From this area 
apparently some gradually migrated into Carolina. It was also 
from Isle of Wight County that William Soujourner brought his 
little band of General Baptist when he established Kehukee Church 
in 1742. The Bertie Church, like other Baptist churches 
established in North Carolina before 1755 was originally a 
General Baptist Church. (4) 

In 1660 all the General Baptist in England had sent 
representatives to London where they put forth a "confession of 
faith" that they might make known their principles to the new 
King Charles 11.(5) In 1679 they published a new confession 
called the "Orthodox Creed". It was from these English General 
Baptist beliefs that the first Baptist churches in North Carolina 
were descended. Burkitt and Read speaking of the General Baptist 

Paqe - 6 

say, "They preached and adhered to the Arminian or Free-will 
doctrine and their churches were first established upon this 
system. They gathered churches without requiring an experience of 
grace previous to their baptism; but baptized all who believed in 
the doctrine of baptism by immersion and requested baptism of 
them. The churches of this order were first gathered here (North 
Carolina) by Elders Paul Palmer and Joseph Parker; and were 
succeeded by a number of ministers whom they baptized." 

The names of the first ministers of the Bertie Church have 
not been preserved. No doubt at times it was without a pastor and 
at times, as already mentioned, probably Joseph Parker or his 
converts preached here. It can be assumed that the Kehukee Church 
also supplied some of its ministers. 

The earliest minister who had charge of the Bertie Church of 
whom there is recorded evidence was Thomas Pope. He was born near 
Blackwater, Virginia about 1728, embraced the principles of the 
General Baptist and evidently, on moving into Carolina, was 
baptized by Elder William Soujourner in 1749.(6) He was ordained 
about 1751. He married Alice Foreman, who was the Widow Ford. (7) 

In 1751 Rev. Thomas Pope was pastor at Kehukee and at the 
same time was probably supplying foV the Bertie Church. Though 
several years later when he reorganized it, the members seemed to 
have been disorganized and pastorless. At this time the effect of 
the Particular Baptist was beginning to creep into the North 
Carolina churches, which would bring about a transformation in 

Page - 7 

most Baptist churches in the colony, including the Bertie Church. 
The Particular Baptist were also known as New Lights and later as 
Regular Baptist. Their confession of faith, which was published 
in London in 1689 containing thirty-two articles, held to the 
Calvinist principles, a more rigid doctrine than that professed 
by the General Baptist. 

The movement in North Carolina seems to have first been 
started by Rev. Robert Williams, who was a native of Northampton 
County. He had gone into South Carolina in 1745 and there had 
been trained in the Calvinistic doctrine of the Welsh Neck 
Bapt i st . 

"Returning about 1750 on a visit to his native county he 
began to propagate his Calvinistic views. He had a great 
influence with the General Baptist, especially those of the 
Kehukee Church." Among his converts there was one William Wall is 
who also took up the cause. "At the same time Rev. Edward Brown 
who was at Great Cohara and nearer the Welsh Neck district began 
to preach Calvinism and seemingly visited Kehukee and, added to 
what had already been done by Williams and Wall is, won over the 
pastor, Rev. Thomas Pope" (8), who was also serving the Bertie 
Church. In order to win the Carolina churches to the Particular 
Baptist view, Robert Williams and others sought aid from the 
Philadelphia Association, the oldest Baptist association in 
America and a stronghold of the Calvinist doctrine. The 
Association sent Rev. John Gano , who came south in 1754 to 
investigate. On hearing his story, upon his return, the 

Page - 8 

Philadelphia Association moved to send two ministering brothers 
to North Carolina to proselyte. Paschal in his history says, "It 
is well to mark the warm missionary zeal of those Philadelphia 
Baptist and their readiness to make contributions of money to 
send messengers to rescue their Carolina brethren from error. But 
for it we should have a very different type of Baptist in eastern 
North Carolina from that found there today." 

The two men sent on this important mission were Peter 
Peterson Vanhorn and Benjamin Miller. The first church they 
visited was Kehukee , where its pastor, Thomas Pope, was already 
converted to the Calvinist doctrine. There in December, 1755, the 
Kehukee Church was reorganized after the Particular Baptist 
order. Shortly thereafter, perhaps in the first months of 1756, 
Rev. Thomas Pope crossed the Roanoke River into Bertie and re- 
established the Bertie Church under a constitution which adhered 
to the beliefs of the Particular Baptist. Paschal in his history 
gives a description of how a church made this change from a 
General Baptist to a Particular Baptist. He says, "the method of 
reorganization was first for the church in conference to disband 
whatever organization had previously existed, which in most 
cases, if we may believe Burkitt and Read, had been very loose. 
It was the preacher's church, thqugh he had his deacons also in 
some instances. At the transformation those who desired to come 
into the new order were required to come under a new examination 
which was conducted by the approved ministers of the Particular 
Baptist faith who were present for the purpose. This examination 
was intended to determine whether the applicant had been 

converted before his baptism and he was expected to satisfy the 

examiners by a relation of the religious experiences which had 

led him to seek baptism. With Miller and Vanhorn those 

examinations seemed to have been conducted with much rigidity. 

When Miller and Vanhorn left the province their work was 

continued by Rev. Thomas Pope who reorganized numerous churches 


under the rigid Calvinist rules. 

After Pope, the next minister connected with the Bertie 
Church, as its pastor, apparently was James Abington. He was a 
resident of Bertie County and before he "became religious, he was 
a man much addicted to sporting and gaming, and very vicious in 
his life and conversation". He was converted under the ministry 
of Elder Pope and joined the Bertie Church, of which he became 
pastor about 1764. As pastor of this church, Abington was 
"Instrumental in gathering a considerable number of members". He 
was "a man of bright genius, a ready mind, and a good voice". 

In 1769 the Kehukee Baptist Association, modeled after the 
Philadelphia Association, was formed. Its first and subsequent 
meetings were held at Kehukee in Halifax county, therefore its 
name. Not only did the North Carolina churches join this 
Association, but also a number of southern Virginia Churches. The 
Bertie Church was one of the original churches to be represented 
at the Kehukee Association tfhen it:;was first organized in 1769. 
To this meeting, the Bertie Church sent its pastor, James 
Abington. Also as delegates it sent Ephram Daniel, Thomas Miers 
and James Vinson. The next year, in 1770 the delegates were James 

Page - 10 

his meetings a sermon of Whitefield or Williston. In a short time 
he began to write his own sermons and engage in public prayer. It 
is stated that "In this way he was lead by degrees to abandon the 
purpose he had of entering the profession of law, and became 
convinced that it was his duty to become a minister ".( 9 ) In July 
1771 he was baptized in the Pasquotank River by Rev. Henry Abbot. 
Lemuel Burkitt was seated at the Kehukee Association meeting in 
1773 as a delegate from the Shiloh Church in Pasquotank now 
Camden County and despite his youth was elected clerk of the 

Young Burkitt, with Elders Jonathan Thomas and John Moore 

were appointed by the Association as a committee to investigate 

the situation in the Bertie Church and advise measures which 

would be likely to regain a general fellowship in the church. The 

committee induced the members to undergo a re-examination as to 

their fitness for membership. A majority of the members were 

received and the church was re-established under a new 

constitution in November 1773. At the same time it chose Lemuel 

Burkitt for its new minister, who was accordingly ordained by 

Elders Jonathan Thomas and John Meglamre. The Baptist historian, 

Dr. G. W. Paschal says "For the next third of a century he 

(Burkitt) was the most influential man among the Baptist of North 

* * * 

Carolina and gave direction and character to Baptist development 
in the eastern half of the state". This was the man who in 1773 
had become pastor of the Bertie Church, a position, he was to 
hold until his death. The first ruling elders for the Bertie 
Church upon its reorganization in 1773 were James Vinson, 

Page - 12 

Winbourn Jenkins, Jonas Woods, and James Jenkins. The first 
deacons were James Rutland, Shadrack Dunning, Sander Futrel , 
Robert Moral, Henry Suton and Jesse Wi 1 1 iams . ( 1 ) Lemuel Burkett, 
on moving into the Roanoke-Chowan area first lived in Hertford 
County. In 1788 he was a delegate from that county to the 
Hillsboro convention to consider the ratification of the United 
States constitution. A majority of the convention, including 
Burkett acting as a committee of the whole, proposed that no 
actions be taken on the ratification until a bill of rights were 
added to the constitution. This naturally was passed by the 
convention and ratification of our federal constitution was 
postponed until 1789 when it was ratified at the Fayetteville 
convent ion . 

In 1790, Lemuel Burkitt moved to a farm in Northampton 
County, close to the Bertie County boundary at Sandy Run. His 
first wife was Hannah Bell, daughter of Captain James Bell of 
Sussex County, Virginia and sister to Elder James Bell. Their 
children to reach maturity were three daughters; Mary, Nancy and 
Sally, and three sons; Lemuel, Jr., William and Burges. Elder 
Burkitt's second wife was Prudence Watson, also of Virginia, by 
whom he had one child who died in infancy. 

Under the leadership of its h*ew pastor, the Bertie Church 
witnessed a great revival which began early in 1774. In that year 
it sent as delegates to the Kehukee Association, its new pastor, 
Lemuel Burkitt, and McAllister Vinson, James Lassiter and Jesse 
Williams. In December of that year Rev. Jonathan Thomas preached 

Page - 13 

his last sermon at the Bertie meeting house. His text was from 
Luke XIV, verse 23: "Compel them to come in that my house may be 
filled". Burkitt and Read describing the occasion say "There was 
a large assembly, and but few in the congregation but what were 
in floods of tears; and many cried out loudly". Elder Thomas went 
home from Sandy Run complaining of a bad cold and early the 
following year he died. The work of the revival continued for two 
years during which time Rev. Burkitt brought nearly 150 new 
members into the church. In 1777 the membership of the church was 

About 1775 some of the members of the Meherrin Church living 
on or near "Pottacasy" Creek in Northampton County formed a 
separate fellowship. Under the influence of Rev. Lemuel Burkitt, 
this group soon became a part of the Bertie Church. 

At the time Burkitt took over the Bertie Church and began 
his revival, the influence of the Separate Baptist was beginning 
to have its effect on a number of the ministers of the Kehukee 
Association. According to Burkitt and Read, the Separatist first 
arose in New England, where some pious ministers and members left 
the Presbyterian of Standing Order on account of their formality 
and superfluity. They appeared in North Carolina as early as 
1755. ° * 

The Separate Baptist believed in a more evangelistic or 
missionary spirit than was evident in the Particular Baptist. The 
Separate Baptist also insisted on a converted membership with a 

Page - 14 

strict examination before approval. The Particular Baptist were 
supposed to uphold a similar policy, but a number of churches in 
the Kehukee area had grown lax in this matter and many were 
slipping back to the old ways of the General Baptist. 

It was held by several of the churches of the Kehukee 
Association that the Separate and the Particular Baptist should 
be brought together. However, the Separate insisted on a 
reformation in the Particular Baptist churches before such union 
would be considered. 

Rev. Burkitt had been in sympathy with the Separate Baptist 
views before he became pastor of the Bertie Church. The revival 
which he began in 1774 was a result of the Separate Baptist 
influence. At that time he led the Bertie Church in open 
conference to declare for a purified church membership, urging 
that repentance and faith should precede baptism, and that the 
church therefore exclude those who admitted they had been 
baptized in unbelief. The church convinced of his arguments, 
agreed to withdraw fellowship from all churches who maintained a 
contrary doctrine. It was one of the first churches in the 
Kehukee Association to undertake this new movement. 


Shortly after the Bertie Church had effected this 
reformation, three churches in Virginia brought about a similar 
reform in their churches. This breech in the Association which 
had been widening for sometime, finally resulted in a division in 
1775 and for several years theological questions concerning 

Page - 15 

salvation were argued at its meetings. Burkitt and Read however 
say that "it was not many years before all the churches were 
united again and the name Regular and Separate buried in 
obi i vion . " 

In 1784 the Kehukee Association met at the Bertie Church. 
Before it was to meet at this church again, the association was 
to be greatly reduced by the creation of two new associations 
from its territory. By 1790 the Kehukee Association perhaps had 
reached its maximum growth, having increased to sixty one 
churches, with a membership scattered over a wide territory in 
North Carolina and Virginia. In that year the Virginia churches 
withdrew to form the Virginia Portsmouth Association to be 
followed in 1793 by the churches south of the Tar River 
withdrawing to form the Neuse Association. Earlier, in 1789, the 
Bertie Church also had lost members when the Connaritsa Church, 
about ten miles away in Bertie County, was constituted. 

In 1794 the Kehukee Association met for the second time at 
the Bertie Church. (12) The membership of the association at this 
time had been reduced to twenty-six churches as a result of the 
two divisions. At this meeting, Meherrin, mother church of the 
Bertie Church, applied for admission. She had remained a General 
Baptist Church through all the year's, but had lately been 
reformed, and was thus received into the Association. 

At its 1791 meeting the Kehukee Association subscribed to 
the Baptist Annual Register, a periodical, printed in London by 

Page - 16 

in London by John Rippon, and at the same time appointed Elder 
Lemuel Burkitt correspondent to it for the Association. He 
undertook this important work and contributed to the publication 
for some twelve years. 

During this period he assembled much valuable information on 
the religious affairs of the Baptist in eastern North Carolina. A 
great deal of this material which first appeared in London in 
Rippon's Register, was later used in compiling his history of the 
Kehukee Association. In 1803 Elders Lemuel Burkitt and Jesse Read 
were co-authors of the first history of the Kehukee Association 
to be produced. This volume was published at Halifax, North 
Carol ina . ( 1 3 ) It is an invaluable record of the early Particular 
Baptist in North Carolina. 

As stated before, the contribution that Rev. Lemuel Burkitt 
made to the early progress of the Baptist faith in North Carolina 
is difficult to over-estimate. Burkitt was consistently elected 
clerk to the Kehukee Association. He was the originator of many 
of the theological questions which were introduced at the 
Association meetings for discussion and settlement and he often 
formulated answers to the inquiries proposed by other members. 

The beginning of the nineteenth century saw the "culmination 
of all the great services of* Burkitt". This came about in the 
Great Revival which swept through the entire country, and which 
did much to give the people that evangelical seal and missionary 

Page - 17 

spirit which prepared them for cooperative work in missionary 
societies and the Baptist State Convention. 

On hearing the news of the revival in Kentucky, Rev. Lemuel 
Burkitt set out for that state to learn if the reports were true. 
Speaking of this journey. Paschal says, "Though he (Burkitt) was 
already past fifty years of age, yet he was of wiry and tough 
frame. Probably for the first time in his life leaving the plains 
of the Atlantic Slope he climbed the majestic mountains which lay 
in his way to Kentucky." When he arrived the revival was going on 
with unabated progress. Seeing the wonderful works of grace "his 
soul caught the seraphic flame. He preached most night and day 
for several weeks, in Kentucky and Tennessee, with great 
acceptance, then returned home fired with an ardent zeal 
surpassing anything his friends had before seen." Burkitt 
immediately took up the work of the revival in his home territory 
describing the great work that had been done across the 
mountains. In two years 1,500 new members had been added by 
baptism to the churches of the Kehukee Association. People would 
flock by the thousands to hear Elder Burkitt as he went from 
church to church throughout the Association. 

At the Meherrin church in August 1803 it was estimated that 
some 4,000 people were present to Hear him. A stage, from which 
Burkitt was to preach, had been erected in the meeting house yard 
for the occasion. The weather was very threatening and before he 
had finished the rain descended in a downpour. "Yet 
notwithstanding the numerous congregation still kept together; 

Page - 18 

effort was used to shun the rain by umbrellas, carriages, 
blankets, etc. yet we believe 1,000 people were exposed to the 
rain without shelter, some crying, some convulsed on the ground, 
some begging the ministers to pray for them; and they composedly 
stood and received the falling shower without ever being 
dispersed. "( 14 ) Such was the power of Burkitt's eloquence. 

During the period that Rev. Burkitt was pastor of the Bertie 
Church a number of "ministering brethren had been raised up in it 
and called to the work of the ministry." These included Elders 
Amos Harrell, Robert Moral, McAllister Vinson, Pitts Kirby, 
Frederick Futrell, James Rutland and James Vinson. Most of these 
men left to spread the Baptist faith throughout other sections of 
North Carolina. 

The minutes of the Bertie Church were kept by Elder Burkitt, 
who also acted as its clerk. They cover the years from 1773 to 
1804 and are the oldest record of the church known to be in 
existence. ( 15 ) To the efforts of Rev. Burkitt, we, today, are 
indebted for this insight into the early life of Sandy Run Church 
when it was known as the Bertie Church. In these minutes are 
listed the members of the church and included are the names of 
some 125 Negro slaves who were in full fellowship with the 


In 1806 it was found advantageous to make another division 
in the Kehukee Association. This time all the churches east of 
the Roanoke River were dismissed by letter to form the Chowan 

Page - 19 

the Roanoke River were dismissed by letter to form the Chowan 
Baptist Association. The Bertie Church, a member of the Kehukee 
Association since its beginning in 1769, as a result of this 
latest division, was now a member of the new organization. 
Brother George Outlaw was made first Moderator and Elder Lemuel 
Burkitt was made clerk. 

The following year, 1807, saw the death of Rev. Burkitt. He 
had been pastor of The Bertie Church since 1773 and was largely 
responsible for its being one of the outstanding churches of that 
period. His funeral was preached by Elder Spivey, who used as his 
text, Paul's 2nd Epistle "For I am ready to be offered and the 
time of my departure is at hand". He was buried near his home, 
close by Sandy Run. A highway historical marker is soon to mark 
the near by site of his grave. In the death of such a predominant 
figure as Rev. Burkitt, the Bertie Church and the Chowan 
Association must have felt a great loss. (16) 

After the death of Burkitt, the Potecasi branch became 
independent in 1808, and the Bertie Church had secured Rev. 
Richard Poindexter as its pastor, who evidently was a preacher of 
much ability. Beginning in 1809 Rev. Poindexter served the church 
for approximately fifteen years^ In this year of 1809, the 
recently created Chowan Association met for the first time at 
Bertie meeting house. 

Sometime between 1803 and 1821 the Bertie Church was moved 
from its first location to Sandy Run on the Northampton-Bertie 

Paae - 2 

boundary. This location was about a mile from the present town of 
Roxobel, beside the road leading into Northampton County. The 
exact date that the church made this move from its earlier site 
near Bishop's Mill Pond to Sandy Run, or why the move was made, 
is not known. Perhaps a better supply of water and easier 
accessibility at Sandy Run prompted the change, coupled with the 
fact that adjacent to the site selected was the home and grave of 
the church's beloved Rev. Burkitt. 

The chanqe had not been affected by 1803, for in that year 
Burkitt gives the church location as some two miles from Sandy 
Run. That the move was made prior to 1821 is proven by a deed of 
gift. In that year William Britton,(17) a substantial landowner 
and merchant gave the tract of land, consisting of some five 
acres at Sandy Run and on which the meeting house then stood, 
according to the conveyance. The deed was made to Joseph Horn and 
Godwin Cotten, as deacons of the Sandy Run Baptist Church. It was 
witnessed by David Bryan, Will Hinton and Turner Horn. 

Apparently for some years prior to 1825 the church had been 
known as the church at Sandy Run or Sandy Run Church, but before 
that it still appeared on the minutes of the Chowan Association 
as Bertie Church. In 1825, however, it was recorded for the first 
time, officially as, Sandy Run Church. In this same year the 
Chowan Association for the second time held its annual meeting at 
the Sandy Run meeting house. 

Page - 21 

Rev. Richard Poindexter had appeared on the minutes of the 
Chowan Association as a delegate from Sandy Run for the last time 
in 1824. From 1825 through 1833 there is no record of a pastor 
attending the Association from Sandy Run. By 1834, however, is 
found that William S. Brown was serving the church. In 1836 Rev. 
Andrew M. Craig had become pastor of Sandy Run. In the following 
year, 1837, Pleasant Grove, in Hertford County, was constituted 
as a separate church. One historian says that "under the 
Dastorate of Lemuel Burkitt and afterwards under that of A. M. 
Craig it (Sandy Run) was one of the most influential bodies of 
its kind in eastern Carol ina" .( 18 ) 

Rev. Craig was born in 1806, ordained at Sandy Run Church 
in 1832, and for the next twenty-five years was associated with 
Sandy Run. His family, on coming into North Carolina had settled 
in Orange County and though he had been reared in a Presbyterian 
atmosphere he had joined the Baptist church.. Elder Craig was to 
prove a minister of great ability and became an outstanding 
figure through the Roanoke-Chowan area. He married Rebecca Gil lam 
of Bertie County. They were the parents of Rev. Braxton Craig, 
another capable Baptist divine and the Hon. Locke Craig, Governor 
of North Carolina. In 1842 Rev. D. Harrell was listed as Pastor 
of Sandy Run, but in 1844 Elder Craig was again in charge of the 

The church continued to be situated at its second location 
on Sandy Run until 1854, when it was moved to its present site in 
the town of Roxobel. This time the land for the church was a gift 

Page - 22 

trustees for the Church. In this year the Rich Square Church was 
also formed by members from Sandy Run. 

In 1861, the Chowan Association met for the last time at 
Sandy Run Church. In this year, besides Rev. Andrew Craig, two 
other preachers were listed as being affiliated with Sandy Run. 
They were Everett Hancock and T. Pittman. Elder Hancock, born in 
Virginia in 1807, had been baptized by Rev. Craig in 1843. He was 
ordained in 1852 and in 1862 was called to the pastoral care of 
Sandy Run Church, but his ministry here was of short duration for 
he died in 1865. After the death of Rev. Hancock, Sandy Run was 
served by Rev. J. Bunch in 1873 and the Rev. T. J. Rook in 1877. 

The West Chowan Association was cut off from the Chowan 
Association in 1883 and Sandy Run Church again found itself in a 
new organization. This same year the Lewiston Church was cut off 
from Sandy Run. Among the pastors at Sandy Run during this period 
from 1880 until the turn of the century were Revs. Charles W. 
Scarboro, W. B. Wingate, J. W. Powell, Archibald Cree, Alexander 
Speight, and T. T. Speight. In 1895 the West Chowan Association 
met at Sandy Run. 

The oldest continuous organization to which Sandy Run Church 
still belongs is the Bertie Union Meeting. (19) This assembly 
which now embraces the same territory as the West Chowan 
Association, was established prior to 1803, perhaps during the 
early years of the Kehukee Association. These Union Meetings were 
first established as local units within the Kehukee Association 

Page - 23 

for the benefit of those churches which were closely situated to 
one another. 

The first members of the Bertie Union Meeting included Sandy 
Run and the Cashie, Wiccacon, Connaritsa and Meherrin churches. 
Most of these churches were located in Bertie County, which thus 
explains why it was given the name of Bertie Union Meeting. Its 
constitution called for an annual gathering of its members so 
that they may come in fellowship with one another. These meetings 
at first often lasted several days and were well attended by all 
the neighboring churches, proving an inspiration to all present. 
One of the first efforts for the establishment of Chowan College 
at Murfreesboro was made through the Bertie Union Meeting. 
Through the years these meetings have been discontinued in some 
sections, but the Bertie Union Meeting still carries on. 

In November 1898, Sandy Run Church dismissed by letter 
twenty-two of its members to form a church at Kelford. Through 
the ages from Sandy Run had developed the churches at Connaritsa, 
Potecasi, Pleasant Grove, Lewiston, Rich Square, Kelford and part 
of the congregation of the Aulander church. 

On July 24, 1936 the very fine wooden church building, with 
its memorial windows was struck by lightening and burned to the 
ground. Members of Sandy Run immediately began work to replace it 
with the modern brick church which now serves the congregation. A 
dedication service for the new church was held on June 9, 1940. 

Page - 24 

Since 1900 among the ministers who have served Sandy Run 
Church have been, Revs. J. 0. Alderman, Mcintosh, Dancey Cale, R. 
L. Gay, J. W. Downey, Mr. Dailey, J. F. Cale, N. J. Todd, W. H. 
Hollowell, Jesse Blalock, J. L. Powers, N. H. Sheppard, C. E. 
Gaddy, C. M. Billings, Braxton L. Davis, Harold White, J. Wade 
Baker, G. M. Singletary and its present pastor, Rev. George E. 
Reynolds . 

The Sandy Run Church of today is a far cry from the handful 
of members who brought it into existence two hundred years ago. 
Its present membership is approximately 360, but there are untold 
numbers, who, through its long history, have gone out from this 
ancient institution to settle in other parts of the state and 
nation, taking with them and continuing the life of the Christian 
faith as they first experienced it in Sandy Run Baptist Church. 

Page - 25 


Moore, John W. manuscript history of N. C. Baptist in the Wake 
Drest College Library- 
Bur kett & Read, Histo ry of th e Kehukee A ssociation, 180 3 
Hufham. N . C. Baptist H ist orical Papers. Vol. I, p. 226 
Paschal, N. C. Baptist, p. 176 
Paschal, N . C. B aptist, p. 22 
Paschal, N . C. Baptist, p. 173 
Edwards, Morgan Notebook, pp. 27 & 29. 
Paschal, N. C. Baptist, Vol. I, p. 206 
Paschal. History of N_. C. Baptist ,.- Vol . I p. 433 

From the Sandy Run Church minutes (1773-1804) in the Wake Forest 
olege Library. These are the earliest minutes of the church chat have 
et been located. 

Burkett & Read, History of the Kehukee Association, d. 50 

2 Account of this meeting, as well as the one in 1784, are given in 
lurkitt & Read's History of the Kehukee Association. 

1 A second edition of this work was printed in 1850 by Elder 
irkitt's grandson, Henry L. Burkitt. 

4 Burkitt & Read, Hi sto r y of Kehukee Association 

5 Located in the Wake Forest College Library. 

6 Sometime after his death there was entered at the end of the Sandy 
:un Church Minute Book, (1773-1804) a biographical sketch of Burkitt' s 
ife. This sketch was printed in the Wake Forest Student, October, 

905 . 

7 William Britton lived at the crossroads about a mile from Sandy Run 
n Bertie County. This crossroads had previously been called "Cotton's 
!ross Roads", but was to be called Britton's Cross Roads or Britton's 
Bore, for a number of years until it was named Roxobel in 1847. 

8. J. D. Hufman, N. C. Baptist Historical Papers , Vol. I, p. 226. 

.9 Its early constitution is printed in Burkitt & Read's Histor y of ' 
:he Kehukee Association. 

Page - 25 





Thomas Pope 

James Abington 

Lemuel Burkitt 





Lemuel Burkitt 

J. Bunch 
T. J. Rook 

Charles W. Scarboro 
W. B. Winqate 

J. W. Powell 
A. Cree 

Alexander Speight 
T. T. Speight 


Lemuel Burkitt 


Lemuel Burkitt 
Richard Poindexter 


Richard Poindexter 
John Crumpler 
Richard Poindexter 


Richard Poindexter 




J . . . A 1 de rman 
M. Mcintosh 
Dancy Cale 
R. L. Gay 

Mr . Dai ley 

J. W. Downey 

J. F. Cale 

N. J. Todd 

W. H . Holloweli 

Jesse Blalock 
J. L. Powers 
N. H. Sheppard 
C. E. Gaddy 
C. M. Billinas 


William S. Brown 
Andrew M. Craig 


Andrew M. Craig 
0. Harrell 
Andrew M. Craig 



C. M. Billinas 
Braxton L. Davis 


Harold White 
J. Wade Baker 
G. M. Singletary 
George E. Reynolds 


George E. Reynolds 

Andrew M. Craig 


Andrew M. Craig 
T. Pittman 
Everett Hancock 

Churches Formed From Sandy Run Baptist Church 

Connaritsa -- 1789 

Potecasi -- 1808 

Pleasant Grove -- 1837 

Rich Square -- 1854 

Lewiston -- 1883 

Kelford -- 1898 

Aulander -- 1886 

(part of conar eaat i on ) 



(Held with Arminian 

(Free Will doctrine) 

Confession of faith 
subscribed by Elders 
in London and several 
Counties in England 
and presented to 
King Charles II. 

Phi ladelphia 
Baptist Association 

Vanhorn & Miller 

(Known as New Lights) 

Adopted the Baptist 
confession of faith 
Published in London 
in 1689, contained 
32 Articles. 
Doctrine of Grace. 




i i 
i i 





Published Sources 

Burkitt & Read 

A Concise History of the Kehuke e Baptist 
As socia t ion From its Original Rise down 
to 1803 . (Revised and improved by Henry 
L. Burk i 1 1 ) . 

Philadelphia - Lippincott, Grambo & Co. 

Delke, James A. 

History of Nor t h Car olina Chowan Baptist 
Association . 1806-1881 

Raleigh: Edwards, Brouqhton & Co. 
Publishers 1883. 

Paschal, Georqe Washington 

Histo ry of North Ca ro Una Bap t i s t 

Vol. I - 1663 - 1805. 
Raleigh - 1930 

Sempl e , Rober t B . 

History of Virginia Baptist . Publ i shed 
in 1810, (in the Wake Forest College 
Library ) 

Articles and Manuscripts 

Barnes, G. H. 

"Sandy Run Baptist Church; 
An Appreciation", newspaper article in 
the Wake Forest Library 

Moore, John W. 

"History of North Carolina Baptist" 
Manuscript in the Wake Forest Collece 

Tyler Charles C. 

"Sandy Run Baptist Church" 
An historical sketch - from the 
Roanoke Chowan Times, June 20, 1940, in 
the Wake Forest College Library. 

Tyler, John 

"Lemuel Burkitt"; biographical sketch, 
appeared in the Bertie Ledger Advance, 
Windsor, N . C- circa 1948- 

Organizational Papers and Minutes 

Chowan Baptist Association Minutes- 

Vol . I, 1806-1845- in the Wake Forest College 


Edwards, Morgan- "Mater ials Towards a History of North 
Carolina Baptists"- 

Hufman, J. D. N. C. Baptist Historical Papers Vol.1 

Kuhekee Baptist Association Minutes- 

1769-1776, in the North Carolina Collection, 
Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, 
Chapel Hill, N. C. 

Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes- 

Vol . I 1773-1804 in the Wake Forest Colleae 
Library- These are the earliest minutes of the 
church known to exist. Included with the minutes 
is a biographical sketch of Rev. Lemuel Burkitt 
and a copy of the deed to the property on which 
the church stood in 1821. 

Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes- 

1804-1855 Lost by fire. One contemporary record 
during this period has been secured by the 
courtesy of Mr. Francis Speight of Doylestown, 
Perm. A copy of the record entitled "A List of 
Sandy Run Members since our Last Association 1831" 
is now in the Wake Forest College Library. 

Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes- 

1886-1950 3 volumes, In custody of the Church of 
Sandy Run Baptist Church, Roxobel, N. C. 

West Chowan Baptist Association Minutes- 

1886-1949 in the Wake Forest Colleae Library